The soul is the immaterial substance that uses the body through consciousness, intentionality, free will, reasoning which our all faculties of the soul. Each person has their own unique soul that has the capacity of for each person’s unique body. The body would be the physical aspect of our humanity which help makes up our complete being. One analogy to represent the relationship between the soul and body would be that the soul is like the musician that plays his instrument which would be the function of the body. Our soul is essentially our mind, will, and emotions which our things that cannot be physically demonstrated to exist as their own things. If these things were physical, then they would not actually exist but rather be illusory. Free will is impossible on physicalism because all our physical acts would be determined by prior physical acts independent from us. Emotions would be activated not by mental states, but rather states of our physical brain which could occur independent of experience. Our mental states (which is part of our mind) would be activated by brain states, so would not be their own thing or substance.
The law of identity states that something is what it is not. This means that something is its own thing and not something else. Something will have its own substance and properties which are only identical to itself. An apple is a fruit that is red and has its own type of flavor. Obviously, a lemon is not the same thing as an apple because it is yellow and has a high acidic level which makes it more sour. Based on this law, the body would be a different thing and the soul would be its own thing. The soul by definition would be immaterial and would be conscious and the body by definition is physical and not conscious. The soul has its own properties and its own substance. The body has its own properties and its own substance. The soul is distinct from the body and the body is distinct from the soul (Lorenz:1; Moreland:35-38).
There are two types of soul/body dualism's and the one you choose to believe will affect your worldview. The first is property dualism which holds the proposition that a human being is one material substance that has both physical and mental properties, with the mental properties arising from the brain (Moreland 37). This is a type of dualism that tries to explain mental states by prior physical brain states, but it fails to account for mental states being their own thing. This type of dualism starts to beg the question when it tries to explain mental states by physical properties. It’s an inconsistent view that in all reality implicitly states that our mental states are really illusory because they are just physical states that our brain is in.
The type of dualism that I hold to and is the type of dualism that I am proposing that the Bible holds to, is substance dualism. Substance Dualism is the proposition that a human person has both a brain that is a physical thing with physical properties and a mind or soul that is a mental substance and has mental properties (Moreland 37). This holds to a more consistent definition of dualism holding to that the body and soul are distinct entities that come up together to make the complete nature of human beings. This is the view that will hopefully be shown to be the most biblical interpretation concerning the soul/body dilemma (Lorenz:1; Moreland:35-38).
Like I stated earlier, the view of the soul will determine many theological views and implications concerning scripture. First, it effects theology concerning life after death and the second coming. If we have a soul, then some hold to the view that that part of our being goes to be with God in an intermediate state before the second coming of Christ. If we our essentially just our body, then we are dead until the second coming (which contradicts Scripture). The Bible affirms that we our in some sort of intermediate state before the second coming. In Luke 23: 39-43, one of the men being crucified with him says to remember him when he goes to his kingdom (implying that Jesus would go to Heaven), then Jesus replies “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” This is just one quick verse to give justification that there is some sort of state before the second coming. Jesus was implying that the man believed in him and would join him in Heaven when he died on his cross (Lorenz:1; Moreland:12-18).
Another theological implication of the soul, affects the being of man and the being of God. If we are just physical, then what is the breath of life from God? The dust in which God made man was specifically used to make man’s being. If we are just physical, then God could have just transform the dust in a person. We have to remember that God is an immaterial consciousness, just like our soul. If we do not have a soul, then what does that mean for God? Would this mean that God is a physical being? I think not, the Bible clearly indicates that God is an immaterial being (John 4:24). If God is an immaterial being, then surely he could create human beings that have an immaterial part to their being. If the Bible actually affirms that we are just physical being, then I will state that it makes a contradiction. At least, that those who hold to this view have an inconsistent point in their views. Of course, the case will be made that the Bible holds that we do have an immaterial soul and God made us this way (Lorenz:1; Moreland:12-18).
Lorenz, Hendrik. "Ancient Theories of Soul." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2009): 1. Article.
Moreland, James P. The Soul: How we know it's real and why it matters . Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2014. Book.